Oprah’s Book Club was a book discussion club segment of the American talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, highlighting books chosen by host Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey started the book club in 1996, selecting a new novel for viewers to read and discuss each month. The Club ended its 15-year run, along with the Oprah Winfrey Show, on May 25, 2011. Winfrey did not abandon books, however, saying “I’m going to try to develop a show for books and authors,” at her new network OWN. In total the club recommended 70 books during its 15 years.
Because of the book club’s wide popularity, many obscure titles have become very popular bestsellers, increasing sales in some cases by as many as several million copies; this occurrence is widely known as the Oprah effect. Al Greco, a Fordham University marketing professor, estimated the total sales of the 69 “Oprah editions” at over 55 million copies.
The Club has seen several literary controversies, such as Jonathan Franzen’s public dissatisfaction with his novel The Corrections having been chosen by Winfrey, and the now infamous incident of James Frey’s memoir, A Million Little Pieces, a 2005 selection, being outed as partly fabricated. The latter controversy resulted in Frey and publisher Nan Talese being confronted and publicly shamed by Winfrey in a highly praised live televised episode of Winfrey’s show.